After being a work-at-home entrepreneur for over 2 years, I can say that the toughest item on this list for me, personally, is learning to say no to potential clients or customers. It’s a scary thought isn’t it? Saying no to new business.
When you work for yourself – especially in the early days – you’re not always sure where that next pay cheque is coming from. Even when the customer roster is full this month, you can’t be positive the same will be true next month or the month after, this creates the habit of taking on more work than you can comfortably perform. After all, isn’t a few nights of burning the midnight oil well worth the benefit of having a little more padding in the bank account?
The problem is, working too much to stay ahead causes us stress and job burnout – and it also makes spouses and families a tad angry! So you just exchange one stress point (finances) for another (overwork and family pressure). There is a solution, although you’re not going to like it. Set a limit and stick to it. I learned this well from a colleague, Yvonne Weld
I know, I know, this is easier said than done – trust me I have been working hard to achieve the balance with my Virtual Assistant business. But I can honestly say that I’ve never had a customer or client disappear into thin air when I told him or her they had to wait a few weeks or months to work with me. In fact, it often shows that you’re in demand and that you can pick and choose who you work with, and when. That’s a valuable trait.
How do you make your limits?
Set a plan for all types of work; decide how many products you’re going to release, how many interviews you’re going to do, how many coaching clients you’re going to work with, how many articles you’ll write, or how many hours you’re going to work per week for clients, and then stop. That’s it – no more. (Of course, keeping in mind your most valuable clients are your present ones and they deserve top notch service – but you can still maintain your boundaries with them). All the parties must be made aware of the boundaries as well in order to be fair and for it to work.
One of the best ways to keep your work commitments at a tolerable level is to make a commitment to your family. You can start with committing to attending every hockey game, every football game, and every piano recital. You can promise dinner each evening, or read out of a chapter book every night to your children. This will make you accountable to your own scheduled work day. You may feel a momentary pang of regret or anxiety when you tell a potential client “no” or “wait.” I’m willing to bet it will soon fade when you realize how much less stressed you are on a day-to-day basis, and how much happier your home life is!
You are the boss of your time. Does your family know that? There you are sitting at your desk in your home office, available to everyone – kids, spouse, neighbors, friends – at a moments notice. You wanted to work at home so you COULD be available to your family, but you will need limits to make it work.
What kind of limits work for you? Feel free to comment and share as this is always an area where new ideas can help everyone else out!